Quote of the Day: Diversity is having a seat at the table, inclusion is having a voice, and belonging is having that voice be heard. 

The History Theatre in St. Paul, MN is providing readings of new work, virtually, this Fall. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the virtual reading of Not in Our Neighborhood, which they plan to produce live, whenever that is possible again. They are currently offering Diesel Heart, through Sept 11, 2020, with a post-play discussion on Friday, September 11. 

Carter family in the 1950’s. Photo provided by History Theatre

Play description from the History Theatre:

DIESEL HEART (Working Title)
Written by Brian Grandison
In collaboration with Melvin Carter Jr.
Directed by H. Adam Harris
Streaming Friday September 4 – Thursday, September 10, 2020
Afterthoughts talk-back Friday, September 11

Melvin Carter Jr. is a true son of St. Paul, as was his father and hero, Melvin Carter Sr. Melvin grew
up in the Rondo neighborhood in the 1950s and ’60s. He experienced firsthand the decimation of the
radiant, vibrant Rondo community for the construction of Interstate 94.

As a student, Melvin struggled in the classroom and also on the streets. As a young man, he enlisted
in the US Navy and was stationed in Morocco where he used his skill inside the boxing ring to win
matches and earn self-respect. After his return home, he joined the St. Paul Police Department as
an affirmative action hire where he continued to fight crime and battle racism on the streets and
within the Department.

Still, his stories and perspective on life is joy-filled and passionate. From his father’s example, he
became a steady and constant presence in the community in the city that spawned and nurtured
him. From his mother he inherited a spirit that doesn’t back down or walk away from the fight to seek

In these days of local, national and international strife, as we find ourselves again saturated with
racism’s social toxin, spending time learning and laughing from this son of St. Paul is a tonic at the
end of a long evening.

This play is still in development. The actors read only the first act, the early life of Melvin Carter, Jr. It was fascinating to watch. The playwright covers some of the family background, when and how they came to St. Paul and settled in the Rondo neighborhood, Carter’s childhood friends, and the antics they got into! They show his struggles in school and handling peer pressure. He was a fighter. At the end of the first act, he enlists in the Navy. I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the play.

Melvin Carter, Jr. Navy photo, provided by the History Theatre.

You can find out more about the History Theatre and the plays their featuring on their Raw Stages, virtually, this fall. It’s a great way to connect with history, experience theater from the safety and comfort of your own home, and support the arts.

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: What kind of neighborhood did you grow up in, or what was your childhood experience?